Senior Tories at odds over implications of Brexit

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has warned that there could be a profound shock to the UK economy if voters back leaving the EU this summer.

In an interview with the BBC this morning, George Osborne said it was “the very worst time” for Britain to take such a significant gamble.

Mr Osborne’s passionate argument for the country remaining in the EU came after a former leader of his own party made an equally equivocal case for Britain’s departure.

Michael Howard, who led the Conservatives into the 2005 General Election, argued that the 28-nation bloc was “flawed and failing” and that the UK should not be afraid of the prospect of leaving.

Mr Osborne, speaking while attending an economic summit in Shanghai, said that while he had enormous respect for the former Tory leader, they disagreed on this issue.

“This is about people’s jobs and their livelihoods and their living standards, and in my judgement as Chancellor leaving the EU would represent a profound economic shock for our country, for all of us and I’m going to do everything I can to prevent that happening,” he said.

Mr Howard is the latest Conservative Party grandee to wade into the debate about the best course of action in the forthcoming in/out referendum.

He believes that, as the fifth largest economy in the world, the UK is well-positioned to prosper outside of the EU.

“We need a bit of self-belief and national self-confidence. We are a great country – everyone wants access to our market. We won’t be supplicants.”